Music | August 21, 2022 1:08 pm

Does Live Nation Have a Security Problem?

A new investigation reaches alarming conclusions

Astroworld sign
A street sign showing the cancellation of the AstroWorld Festival at NRG Park on November 6, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

Over the course of the last year or so, you might have deteted an alarming trend developing when it comes to live events – namely, unthinkably tragic or violent events taking place there. In the last year, we’ve heard reports about the Astroworld tragedy, the backstage killing of Drakeo the Ruler and an onstage attack on Dave Chappelle. What all of these events have in common besides being tragic and unsettling is the involvement of concert promoter Live Nation. And, taken together, they raise a significant question: is there more the company could be doing to prevent future tragedies?

In a new investigation for the Los Angeles Times, August Brown took a deeper look into Live Nation’s security practices, and found a few unsettling gaps. The investigation included conversations with experts in the field and a review of lawsuits pertaining to Live Nation events; the picture it paints offers a glimpse into how a massive company focused on event promotion can get some essential components of event security wrong.

Among the people Brown spoke with was a security guard who argued that Live Nation had understaffed several events they had worked on, which led to “chaotic” atmospheres when the existing security personnel were unable to provide crowd control during tense situations.

A spokesperson for Live Nation disputed the idea that disparate incidents reflected anything greater. “It’s misleading to say there is a pattern of issues when the nature of the incidents at those events was fundamentally different,” they told the Times.

A recent report from The Guardian noted that, in the wake of Astroworld last year, a number of musicians are taking it upon themselves to respond to tense situations at concerts. And while that’s admirable, there’s also a scale beyond which that doesn’t seem feasible.

Whether or not the Times investigation — or, say, Congress’s investigation of Astroworld — will result in tangible changes is as yet unclear. But they may well leave concertgoers with a few more things on their mind the next time they go to see live music.